Breast Cancer Rates Have Dropped, Saving More Than 322,000 Lives

Given the recent headlines about Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ breast cancer diagnosis, as well as it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month — for all those wondering when breast cancer month is — this news seems even more newsworthy. According to a new study from the American Cancer Society, breast cancer rates have declined over the past 26 years, saving thousands of lives in the process.

The latest statistics, which were published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and its companion journal Breast Cancer Facts & Figures show that from 1989 to 2015, the overall breast cancer rate dropped 39 percent, preventing 322,600 deaths from breast cancer.

Researchers believe this sharp decline is the result of increased education and access to mammograms for early detection. While not all women benefitted equally from this progress, death rates across different races/ethnicities over the last two-and-a-half decades in some states have basically leveled off for non-Hispanic white women (NHW) and non-Hispanic black women (NHB), indicating that equality is achievable.

“A large body of research suggests that the black-white breast cancer disparity results from a complex interaction of biologic and nonbiologic factors, including differences in stage at diagnosis, tumor characteristics, obesity, other health issues, as well as tumor characteristics, particularly a higher rate of triple negative cancer,” study author Carol DeSantis said. “But the substantial geographic variation in breast cancer death rates confirms the role of social and structural factors, and the closing disparity in several states indicates that increasing access to health care to low-income populations can further progress the elimination of breast cancer disparities.”

Despite these great strides, breast cancer is still the most common cancer diagnosis for women in the U.S., excluding skin cancer. Researchers in the study estimate that 252,710 more women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. After lung cancer, breast cancer kills the most women; 40,610 U.S. ladies are expected to die from breast cancer this year.

The majority of women — 81 percent — who are diagnosed with breast cancer are 50 years or older, and 89 percent of breast cancer deaths occur in this age group. If you have questions about breast cancer or need to schedule a mammogram, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor. An hour of your time will give you peace of mind, and that’s priceless.

h/t Science Daily

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